DES MOINES, Iowa -- A Drake University political scientist says Tuesday's Democratic presidential debate in Ohio featuring 12 candidates is an important night for those in the middle of the pack.
"You have individuals trying to get their punches thrown, get their voice in there to be heard, trying to have a breakout moment. With the largest group we've had thus far in a single debate that will occur even more so."
Professor Dennis Goldford says even before the first official vote is cast--an "invisible primary" is going on.
"This invisible primary is sorting the contenders into certainly lower rung folks who've got to make a move or they're going to run out of money, and those who seem to able to compete for the long haul."
The 10 candidates who were part of last month's debate will be joined in Tuesday night's event by Hawaii Rep. Tulsi Gabbard and businessman Tom Steyer--both met the Democratic National Committee's qualifications for the debate.